Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

January 22, 2016 – January 28, 2016

CONDITIONS

For our seasonal residents that thought that winter wasn’t going to happen here this year…….whoops!. It’s here now with a vengeance. Chilly for us folks but a plus for the winter fishing. Species that perform well in cold water are in the process of arriving and feeding as we speak. Forecasts don’t show much of a break in the cold and colder pattern, so things should be frequent as far as fronts go but stable overall. Basically cold and windy. This week starts out with the surface water temperature at 63 and trending down as the cold nights continue. The tides drawn by a full moon early week will have a strong morning incoming and a strengthening afternoon outgoing. The winds and fronts will descend again starting Saturday with strong west winds that will surely foul the water for the ensuing 36 hours at least.

BACKWATER

You won’t have to look very hard for your take-home sheepshead. They have arrived. They will be thick along the beaches and in all the passes and the origination point of all connecting waterways. In the days that follow they will spread to most of the inshore waters. Most now will be at least minimum keeper size. Technique is important with sheepshead who hold the record for bait stealing. Use a lindy rig (snelled 1/0 hook tied beneath a size 7 swivel with a 3/4 oz weight threaded on the line resting on the top of the swivel) worked by lifting it frequently 5-6″ off the bottom; if you feel weight on your rod set with a short (5-6″) yank. Then retrieve not allowing the rod to dip down and slack the line. Sheepshead minimum harvest size is 12″ overall length with the tail squeezed. Should also see upgraded activity on sea trout in the deeper holes early on small tipped jigs and then moving to the sea grass flats in the afternoon shallow water “warmth” jumping on shrimp strung under a popper on a drift. Other “activity upticks” in pompano in Hurricane Pass and Capri Pass in clean water tides with small tipped jigs worked tight to the bottom.

NEARSHORE

Need your forecasts this week; couple periods of high wind  and rain could make for a rough trip. The cold turn to water temps could well as sent the pelagics scattering south……along with the assembled white bait. So, big “stuff” may have vacated the premises. Your new target should logically be the cold water sheepshead / black drum that are moving inshore to spawn. Good spots are the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the Five Mile Reef complex further west. If the sheepshead population has arrived you’ll know it short order with the accelerating action level. (Check the backwater section for the technique to be used out here as well). The Capri Barges always seem to draw mackerel as the water chills this time of year. Certainly worth a shot working tipped top water jigs over chum into the moving tide.

OFFSHORE

Conditions permitting. Pick your day and time to avoid nasty wind and sea conditions. Red grouper will remain the top target through this change in weather conditions. Only difference is that they will move to their water comfort range……where deeper is warmer. So your starting depth over those hard bottom spots should move deeper ……from 40′-50′ to 50′-60′ working cut ladyfish or threads tight to hard bottom on a drift. Gag grouper will be in your window of opportunity but they are out of season and must be released. Reef spots closer inshore will give you a chance at some nice lane snapper working weighted tipped under chum.

 

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

January 15, 2016 – January 21, 2016

CONDITIONS:

Winter is here….in a modified version with chilly overnights and warming days which should continue through this week. Add to that some hellacious frontal wind over this weekend and we’ll have tough fishing conditions. If there is a good side to those factors it will be that the water temperatures will continue to decline and, hopefully, finally trigger our winter species to take action. Look for the water temperature to range between 65 and 67 by week end and then hold there and stabilize the conditions for the fishery. Some of the tough winds over the weekend will gust to 30 knots and most will be out of the west. Look for fouled (muddy) water especially on the incoming tides….and avoid it. The tides are moderate with a weak morning outgoing and a stronger PM incoming. Overall……weather conditions will stir things up this week.

BACKWATER:

Good chance we will see the first run of mega spawning sheepshead in the Passes and along the Marco River and connecting waterways this week. Their usual haunts will be in amongst the barnacle laden pilings in deeper holes with bottom structure. Best baits are a small piece of fresh shrimp or fiddler crab worked right on the bottom with a soft lift technique (bait to bottom….slow lift 5-6 inches to move bait across the bottom…..repeat…..when tip of rod bends…..set with a compact pull). Cool down should also excite the seatrout action in close in places like the ICW up along the edges of Calhoun Channel; the north end of Canon Island south of ICW marker red #28 and between the docks on Keeywadin Island across from the Naples Boat Club Facility. Take trout on whole shrimp under a popper or on artificial touts. Snook action will slow dramatically but you may see an occasional juvenile. Redfish action will improve and you’ll see more individual fish (not schooled up). Work far reach mangrove edges in the last hour of incoming tides with freelined shrimp. Action on the ever-popular whiting and silver trout will kick in working small tipped jigs off the beaches or in the deeper holes along the various waterways.

NEARSHORE:

Forecasted sea conditions will be tough over the weekend. Should improve mid week forward. Pelagic action continues to hold on bait schools in 30-40′ depths. Mackerel, bluefish, small kings on bottom structure can be worked with tipped top water jigs worked over chum in good tidal current. Bottom action should also begin to show the arrival of the bigger spawning sheepshead in places like the Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass; the northwest and southeast corners of the Five Mile Reef Complex and the various Capri Pass barges. Sheepshead on shrimp / crabs as explained in this week’s Backwater Section. With the lingering warmth of the SW Florida coast, good chance there are some major pelagics still heading south to the Keys……so keep a live blue runner or threadfin herring out in the running current. Still a chance for a cobia or kingfish to come along and surprise.

OFFSHORE:

Marginal sea conditions out here this week. Be careful. But if you do get out you’ll find continued hot action on red grouper. Now, with the chill down, the Reds will move to the warmth. Warmer water is deeper water……so good chance they have slid west to 50′ of water over hard bottom at about 9-11 miles offshore (federal waters) which has reopened for harvest of reds effective 1/1/2016. Harvest size is 20″O and the bag limit is 2 per person. Work the Reds with live pinfish or cut ladyfish tight to the outcroppings in the hard bottom at anchor or on a drift. Bottom fishing can also produce sheepshead, lane snapper and triggerfish this time of year on weighted tipped jigs.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

January 8, 2016 – January 14, 2016

CONDITIONS:

It’s more back and forth weather conditions. The cool week turned warm for a couple days but will dip and hold a temperature range of 65 – 55 by late week. That will chill the water down a bit……moving it from the low seventies to the mid sixties. Don’t think that will be enough to trigger a turn on of traditional winter fishing but at least it looks like it will be consistent. There is more periods of rain during the week, so keep a watch on your on-line weather before you start the engine. The tides are passing through a new moon period and will be stronger than normal. Look for a stronger morning incoming than an afternoon ebb tide. Winds all week are classified as moderate to strong with variable direction. Waters should stay reasonably clean but don’t bet on it.

BACKWATER:

Still haven’t triggered the mega sheepshead move inshore. Have some 12″ (barely) spawners showing but very few. Most of the sheepshead action is sub-harvest size. Conditions forecast for this week looks like nothing is going to much change. You’ll get lots of action but not a lot of sheepies in the box. Better chance is on mangrove that are staying summer active along all the waterway edges tight to the mangrove overhangs on both tides working shrimp with great patience. Small snapper are always there but the big ones seem to hold off until the tides slow which is usually a half hour or so on either side of slack water. But you always have a shot at something else. Redfish are still active but not as numerous as they were in the late fall. The shallow mangrove edges as the incoming tide ends working shrimp under a popper would be the best chance of success. There are still some seatrout around and active feeding early in the deep cuts along the Marco River and connecting waterways. Here you’ll need tipped jigs or touts worked deep in the cuts on morning incoming tide. Bottom line: not the greatest of fishing conditions……but be persistent and patient for results.

NEARSHORE:

Conditions are indefinite, so you’ll want to pay attention to local forecasts this week. Gag grouper are active inshore as the water cools but harvest is closed until July 1st. Fun to catch and carefully release now. Seeing some mackerel, so get that chum bag in the water and begin working those top water jigs right up top avoiding the runners and jacks typically holding below. And always a chance here now to find a migrating kingfish or cobia feeding on the enormous bait schools. Keep a live blue runner on wire in the slick for the kings and ready rod with live threadfin if the curious cobia show up on the surface.

OFFSHORE:

With conditions stable for that deep water trip you’ll want to jump on the sustaining opportunity for red grouper now open in both state and federal waters. Working a live pinfish or cut ladyfish on hard bottom anywhere from seven miles on out should get you great action. With totally open waters, you should have no trouble hooking up with some nice size harvestable red grouper. Good to great table fare and you can harvest two 20″ per day. Deep wrecks for amberjack which are one of the toughest fights in the salt using a live bait worked vertically right into the wreck for the best chance of a hook up.

Rose Marina Fishing Report - Marco Island, Fl

January 1, 2016 – January 7, 2016

CONDITIONS:

Endless summer continues here in SW Florida. That nice warm air and brilliant sunshine may put a smile on your face but it has confused the fish and knocked them off their activity this late 2015. The unusual heat will continue into the weekend and then by Sunday we’ll see a change. A moderate front will bring a day of rain followed by a chill down with morning air temps in the 50’s that morph into 70 degree afternoons and will probably drop the water temp from it’s current 75 degrees down to just a tad under 70. It’s a cool down but without the intensity to get the fish species back in sync. The winds behind the front will hold easterly and strong most of the week churning up the backwaters especially the outgoing. And to cap it off the tides will be virtually non-existent both ways until the end of the week.

BACKWATER:

The major inhabitant that we count on as great action i.e the spawning sheepshead is still holding in the cooler water offshore. If you target them in the backwaters now you will empty your bait bucket with 10″ fish. Better to hold off and see if January weather normalizes for the “sheepies”. Better bet is to focus on the still numerous mangrove snapper working the shoreline spots at low water and ganging up along the mangrove edges at high water. Good chance at some keepers here using small whole shrimp or netted white bait. You might even see some nice size flounder in your mix. Both species are great table fare. There are hordes of white bait holding locally that show up in Capri Pass and the first inshore portion of the Marco River…..their arrival is announced by arriving pelagics from mackerel, pompano, kingfish chasing the bait and diving gulls and Pelicans gobbling up the leftovers. Try to drift through this melee working either a tipped jig down 10-15′ or a live or cut bait 10′ off the bottom. You may get surprised at the action and possibility of getting something to take home.

NEARSHORE:

With the forecasted conditions going in the tank late weekend……..best to get your trip in Friday, Saturday or early Sunday. Those same hordes of bait move back nearshore on the outgoing tide and in turn attract some major pelagics nearshore (kingfish and cobia) and some of the minor species (mackerel and bluefish). You’ll need chum to draw and hold the action and live bait on stout leader to get them aboard. Key spots are the Capri Pass wrecks / barges ; Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the three corner spots on the Five Mile Reef. If you switch over to bottom fishing do the chum thing again and work weighted tipped jigs into the slick……lane and mangrove snapper, flounder, triggerfish and maybe a seatrout or two will be your targets here.

OFFSHORE:

Ditto on your timing out deep with a front coming through. Go Early ! Red grouper have been the “go to” species this year. Most cannot remember a better year of results, both catch and keep,  on this delectable species. AND the Feds have reopened the federal waters for red grouper harvest effective January 1, 2016. That means you are not restricted with a nine mile offshore limit which should go hand-in-hand with even better results starting this week. Simple process; live pinfish / cut ladyfish on a drift over hard bottom with stout gear and a ratcheted down drag setting. Second good news: the amberjack harvest season has reopened. AJ’s hold deep on wrecks and can be had by dropping live bait vertically right into the wreck structure and “hang on” many of these AJ’s can go 30# plus.

From all the Captains….here’s to all our readers for a Happy and Healthy 2016 for all!